PETERSBURG — Tropical Storm Elsa was in town for only a few hours, but it sure did make its presence felt.
Exact rain totals were not immediately available, but the National Weather Service office in Wakefield had predicted as much as three inches of precipitation would fall as the storm passed through.
Rain fell heavily and steady for about 5-6 hours Thursday and Thursday night. The city reported several streets flooded all over the city.
“The city is asking that traffic stay away from these areas and that people stay off the roads [Thursday night] if possible,” Petersburg city spokeswoman Joanne Williams said in an email Thursday night. City crews had barricades already in place prior to the high point of the storm, and they were put into position once the streets started flooding.
Some of the heaviest flooding appeared to be on East Wythe Street between Jefferson Street and Interstate 95. Petersburg resident Jacorey Jones posted a photo on his Facebook page where water completely covered all travel lanes and the water level was almost halfway up the side of a car parked on the street.
Other residents took to Facebook to report flash flooding on East Washington Street at the railroad overpass near East Bank Street and at the city bus garage near Pecan Acres.
East Bank Street was closed from North Old Church Street west to Madison Street. Water was high enough to force the closure of the Bank Street interchange off Interstate 95.
Flooding was also reported along River Street in Old Towne, Bollingbrook Street between Madison Street and North Crater Road, and Defense Road between Squirrel Level Road and Baylor’s Lane.
The storm was more of a rainmaker than a wind producer, but one Facebook user reported a tree down on Youngs Road in western Petersburg.
Earlier in the day, NWS issued a flash flood watch for Petersburg, meaning conditions were favorable for high water. By early evening, the weather service changed that to a flood warning covering Petersburg, Hopewell and Chester. That warning was set to expire at 2 a.m. Friday.
A tornado watch was also issued for the area until 11 p.m. Thursday.
Tropical Storm Elsa began its march up the East Coast Wednesday after coming ashore in the Florida panhandle. At least one death in Jacksonville, Florida has been attributed to the storm. Ten others have been injured.
Click here to see the latest forecast from the National Weather Service for Petersburg. Please go to our Facebook page to share your Elsa photos and stories.
Veteran journalist Bill Atkinson (he/him/his) is the regional daily news coach for the USA TODAY Network Southeast Region’s Unified Central group, which includes Virginia and North Carolina. He is based at The Progress-Index in Petersburg, Virginia. Contact Bill at [email protected], and follow him on Twitter at @BAtkinson_PI.